Friday, October 10, 2014

ADD wisdom

Been looking at my own ADD issues of late, looking for better ways to manage the things that are difficult for me (paperwork!)  Checked out 2 books from the local library:

Delivered from Distraction, by Drs. Hallowell and Ratey (the book-on-tape version) and Fast Minds, by Drs. Surman and Bilkey.

I finished listening to the book-on-tape, but am still working my way through the actual book (no surprise there: people with ADD are not fast readers, if they read at all).

Highlights from Delivered from Distraction:

See piles.  See piles grow.
 Adults with ADD make piles.  Those piles metastasize.

A partnership of mutual respect. And fun!
 The two most important life choices to making your life with ADD easier are: (1) Marry the right person. (2) Have the right job.

Point (1) - I did marry the right person (finally).  Sweetie manages my ADD tendencies in a way that no one in my life ever has before: with gentleness, without judgement, and by focusing on my strengths.  She is my rock.

Point (2) - I'm not really sure that I have the right job. Teaching involves, as my Principal put it recently, working in the interruption factory.  It also produces and requires a great deal of paperwork.  These are not my areas of strength--so I am working super hard to do my job.  Some days it feels like it takes every ounce of my attention, and then I am not left with any reserve for the living that takes place outside of school.  So I am looking hard at what "the right job" would be for me... while continuing to work in the interruption factory, manufacturing teenage-math-doing-widgets.

Fast Minds:  I am in the midst of reading about the brain's executive functions--how the brain chooses what to attend to, how on-the-fly prioritizing happens.  Since the ADD brain has difficulty in this area, the book has some concrete strategies presented about managing executive functions using external resources.  (In my mind I'm picturing like an external hard drive; can't I just plug in bits and pieces to augment my brain's shortcomings?) 

This reading has helped explain to me one of the things I have heard about stimulant medications (e.g. Ritalin, Adderal) not being "magic" in the treatment of ADD.  Medications help with focus, but the executive area of the brain still struggles with what exactly to focus on.  Good point.  Which is why there are entire books on the subject; because the meds don't/can't fix all the parts of the brain encompassed in the umbrella of "paying attention".

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